Bio


Gigi Otálvaro, Ph.D. is an educator, interdisciplinary performance artist-scholar, writer, and psychogeographer. As Associate Director of the Division of Health and Human Performance, she leads the LifeWorks program which offers courses and workshops that integrate scholarship, creative expression and embodied practices such as mindfulness and self-reflection to help students connect their academic work with their core values and goals. Her research and pedagogy engage Latina/x and women of color feminisms, queer of color critique, sexual commerce and performance, mindfulness-based art practice, as well as art and activism. Prior to her current position, she was a Teaching Fellow in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, where she taught research-based writing courses exploring the connections between visual art, performance, embodiment, and mindfulness. She is also certified as a Laughter Yoga Leader, and is currently working toward her teaching certificate in Qigong. She integrates these two modalities in many of the LifeWorks courses she designs and teaches in her areas of expertise, such as performance theory and practice, visual studies, and critical studies in race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.

She obtained her doctorate of philosophy in Theater & Performance Studies with a minor in Art History from Stanford University. She holds a M.A. from California College of the Arts in Visual and Critical Studies and a B.A. from Brown University in an independent concentration entitled “Hybridity and Performance.” She is the recipient of the first-ever Stanford Theater & Performance Studies Department Carl Weber Prize for Integration of Creative Practice and Scholarly Research for her doctoral research and dissertation entitled Erotic Resistance: Performance, Art, and Activism, in San Francisco Strip Clubs, 1960s-2010s. The working title for her current book project which is based on the dissertation is Erotic Resistance: the Struggle for the Soul of San Francisco, and is currently under review with University of California Press. Her M.A. thesis, Embodying Spaces: Memory and Resistance in the Aftermath of Argentina’s Dirty War (1976-1983), focused on cultural memory, embodiment, and the politics of space in relation to human rights activism, public art, and memorials in the aftermath of the dictatorship. Her work in performance and video has been presented nationally and internationally.

From 2002 to 2008, she directed her own arts organization (a)eromestiza, dedicated to presenting cutting edge video and performance by queer artists of color. Her writing has been published in Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture, San Francisco MOMA’s Open Space, Art Practical, Performance Research, Social Justice Journal, shellac, artistmanifesto.com, Antithesis Journal: Sex 2000 and anthologies such as Postcolonial and Queer Theories: Intersections and Essays, Pinay Power: Peminist Critical Theory / Theorizing the Filipina American Experience, and the Routledge Companion to Decolonizing Art History (forthcoming). She has received awards from the Stanford Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and the Stanford Women’s Community Center (the university-wide Graduate Feminist Scholar Award), Core77, Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art, the San Francisco Art Commission, the Potrero Nuevo Fund Prize, and the National Association for Latino Art and Culture, among others. For her complete C.V. and samples of work, visit gigiotalvaro.org.

Honors & Awards


  • Carl Weber Prize for Integration of Creative Practice & Scholarly Research, Stanford Department of Theater & Performance Studies (2018)
  • Graduate Feminist Scholar Award, Stanford Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and the Women's Community Center (2018)

Education & Certifications


  • Ph.D., Stanford University, Theater & Performance Studies (minor: Art History) (2018)
  • M.A., California College of the Arts, Visual and Critical Studies (2012)
  • B.A., Brown University, Independent Concentration: Hybridity and Performance (1998)

2022-23 Courses


All Publications